Plenty of stereotypes come with your preference for either dogs or cats. But what does the cold-hearted data say about these prejudices: Are all "dog people" actually outdoorsy, excitable, and sociable? Are "cat people" really all single, grumpy, Internet-loving hermits?
Facebook holds huge amounts of data on around 1.7 billion people from all corners of life, from their interests and tastes to their social circles and family. Just recently, the brains over at Facebook Research have been prying into this data to get some insights into one of society’s deepest divides: the differences between dog people and cat people.
The researchers analyzed the profiles of about 160,000 people in the United States, using object recognition artificial intelligence. This AI was originally developed to help blind people use Facebook by recognizing images and explaining their content using automated text-to-speech software. It was able to pick up on the proportion of photos that the users had shared of cats or dogs or both. These numbers were used to break them down into “dog people” or “cat people”. From there, they paired this with the information on their page likes, friends, photographs, and events.
First up, dog people tended to have more friends. People who had more photos of dogs had on average 26 more Facebook friends than cat-lovers. Nevertheless, cat people got invited to more events.
And yep, as the prejudices and stereotypes suggest, cat people are more likely to be single. Around 30 percent of cat people are single, compared to just 24 percent of dog people. However, not all cat-lovers are single older ladies. As Facebook explains “unlike the stereotype, being single and a cat lover isn't related to age or gender — younger cat-lovers, and male cat-lovers of all ages are just as likely as older female cat-lovers to be single.”
The data also gives insights into the tastes of each group by looking at which books, TV shows, and films they liked on Facebook Pages. Overall, cat people liked the pages of books, TV shows, and films more so than dog people, suggesting they prefer indoor activities. Cat-lovers also tended to show more interest in fantasy, anime, and science-fiction, such as Pokemon, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Dracula, The Hobbit, and Alien. While dog lovers liked romance, drama, and reality TV, such as One Tree Hill, Marley & Me, Pretty Woman, The Hills and anything by Nicholas Sparks.
Frozen, Seinfeld, Catcher in the Rye, Goodfellas, and Jackass managed to transcend these barriers and are more or less loved equally by both groups.
They also aggregated data from Facebook's feelings feature and saw how people in each group ranked on displaying their emotions. Cat people were shown to be more expressive and showed a wider variety of feelings on the site, namely: happiness, tiredness, annoyance, and sadness. Dog people tended to keep their emotions cool while on Facebook, mainly only expressing themselves when they felt “proud” or “excited."
Head over to the Facebook Research blog for more of these insights.
All Images credit: Facebook Research